Regardless of the narrative being sold, fact is, Black talents, particularly black women brilliance has always been in existence, undeniably spreading across various fields of endeavor, influencing and changing the game.
Hair extensions have no doubt come a long way many thanks to redesigning and improvement on the earlier models, however, the history of weaves today cannot be told without the mention of Christina Jenkins. The innovative Jenkins brought about a major advancement in hairstyling with her hair weave technique which offered black women the luxury of choosing from an array of styles.
African American hairstylist Christina Jenkins left a glowing legacy as the creative mastermind behind the sew-in weave technique.
Way back in 1949, Louisiana born Christina Mae Jenkins, while working at a wig-making company didn’t fancy attaching hair with chemicals or heat, plus the fact that these wigs often fell off from the head, burdened, she got to work by figuring out an alternative way of attaching hair void of chemicals or heat. Results? Christina successfully came up with the idea of attaching hair to a net and sewing unto the client’s cornrows base. Her technique she dubbed ‘Hairweeve.”
She described her method as “interweaving strands of live hair and strands of commercial hair, with cord-like material to permanently join the strands…” Upon being granted a patent in 1952 after applying a year prior, she traveled the world to teach her technique and even kicked off a training academy. However, the patent granted in 1952 was challenged through litigation and overturned in 1965. A dispute arose over Jenkins’ claim to the hair weave as some historians stated the technique was used similarly in ancient Egypt.
Christina Mae Jenkins graduated from Leland College near Baton Rouge with a degree in science in 1943. She was married to famed jazz pianist Herman “Duke” Jenkins, the pair birthed and raised one daughter, Ms. Shelia Jenkins-Cochran.
Jenkins owned and operated her Christina’s HairWeeve Penthouse Salon, Cleveland until 1993.
When Christina Jenkins died at the age of 82 in 2003, the late Ohio US Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones commended Jenkins for her invention, calling her “a pioneer in the field of cosmetology” and her invention of the hair weave a “revolutionary contribution” that has “helped to boost the self-esteem of men and women across the world”.